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NorthEast United beat Delhi; return to top of ISL

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New Delhi : A dominant NorthEast United FC scored two late goals to beat Delhi Dynamos 2-0 in their Indian Super League football match in New Delhi.

The home side failed to create enough chances to score and were outplayed by the visitors who, however, could not find a breakthrough until the 82nd minute at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

A moment of individual brilliance from Federico Gallego (82nd minute) and a clinical strike by Bartholomew Ogbeche (90th) helped NorthEast United climb to the top of the table with 11 points, although they have played a match more than FC Goa (10 points).

 

This was NorthEast’s third victory on the road and the best start they have had in the ISL.

NorthEast United spurned a golden chance to take an early lead five minutes into the match. A pacy surge forward was led by Ogbeche who played a one-two with Redeem Tlang before unleashing a dipping effort from the edge of the box. The goalkeeper stood no chance of keeping it out but luckily for him, the effort hit the crossbar.

The visitors were attacking in numbers with Tlang’s exploits on the right flank pinning both Nandhakumar Sekar and Narayan Das into their own half.

Lallianzuala Chhangte’s pace was put to the test when an overhit backpass placed Robert Lalthlamuana in a spot of bother in the visitor’s half. The defender managed to get to the ball before the Mizo-born winger and averted a defensive catastrophe against the run of play.

Delhi could have shocked the visitors with a lead when Pritam Kotal rose highest to get a corner-kick delivery but the ball sailed over the bar.

NorthEast United had a couple more chances before the break. Rowllin Borges received Tlang’s cross into the box, controlled it with a delightful touch and released a shot that was blocked by Rana Gharami.

The resulting corner-kick was aimed for Juan Mascia in the centre who flicked it to the near post where Mateo Grgic’s header flying towards the net was brilliantly kept out by Dorronsoro.

Gombau responded to the visitors’ onslaught by adding Vinit Rai into Delhi’s midfield as the home side were struggling to keep the ball.

NorthEast’s first chance after the break saw Gallego’s powerful shot take a deflection off a sliding Gianni Zuiverloon and went straight into the hands of goalkeeper Francisco Dorronsoro.

At the other end, Zuiverloon stood over a free-kick outside the box on the left and swung it towards the far post for Andrija Kaludjerovic who couldn’t keep his shot on target, much to the dismay of the large crowd in the stands.

The home side had their chance in the 78th minute when a long ball by Marti Crespi fell perfectly for Kaludjerovic at the edge of the box. The striker played a one-two with Marcos Tebar whose well-weighted through-ball had Kaludjerovic attempt a shot which was blocked and deflected wide by a sliding Mato Grgic.

NorthEast United finally got their goal through a moment of brilliance from Gallego. The Uruguayan midfielder picked up the ball from the left flank, skipped past his marker, surged into the box before sending a stunning finish into the bottom right corner.

Romeo Fernandes’ poor pass back to Pritam Kotal was intercepted by Gallego who charged down the left flank and squared the ball to Ogbeche. The Nigerian forward sent the ball into the net to complete NorthEast United’s masterclass in Delhi.


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Punjab fall short again

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Ludhiana: Services overcame hosts Punjab 1-0 in the final to win the 69th National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy at Guru Nanak Stadium here today.

Bikash Thapa’s 61st-minute strike proved the difference between the two sides as Services’ recent dominance in the tournament continued. Of Services’ six titles, five have come in the last eight years — in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019. Since losing to Punjab in the 2008 title match in Srinagar, Services have not lost in the final.

On the other hand, this was Punjab’s third defeat in the final since winning their last title in 2008. The eight-time champions had lost 2-1 to West Bengal in 2010. In their last final appearance, in 2015, they had lost to Services 5-4 on penalties at the same venue. This is the eighth time Punjab have finished as runners-up. This was the fourth time Punjab were playing hosts. In 1970 and 1974, they had emerged champions in Jalandhar.

 

Being the final, the match expectedly saw a slow start, with both teams playing a little cautiously. Punjab, however, were the faster off the blocks. They dominated possession and had greater depth in their attacks. The hosts created a few opportunites but couldn’t convert, with Sunny and Vikrant Singh shooting just over the bar.

However, as the match wore on, Services gained composure and got more control over the proceedings. They started building their attacks from the flanks and almost got the breakthrough just before the end of the first half.

After the changeover, Services came out with more intent and energy. They continued pushing up the flanks and the strategy paid off. Lallawmkima PC found himself on the edge of the Punjab box. He squared the ball to Thapa, who slotted it into the bottom corner. A shirtless celebration followed, for which Thapa received a yellow card.

Punjab could have restored parity in the dying minutes but Services goalkeeper Vishnu VK made some valiant saves to ensure his side won the coveted trophy after three years.

Services skipper N Suresh Meitei was adjudged the Player of the Match. The winners received a prize of Rs 5 lakh, while Punjab pocketed Rs 3.5 lakh.

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Pakistan cricketer seeks Tendulkar’s advice before WC

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Lahore: Picked in Pakistan’s World Cup squad, opener Abid Ali sought advice from Sachin Tendulkar ahead of the showpiece and said he wants to hug the Indian batting great.

The 31-year old has been in prolific form in Pakistan’s domestic cricket and broke into the national one-day squad for the World Cup after scoring a century on his debut against Australia in Dubai last month.

The immensely talented Abid bats in a manner similar to one of cricket’s all-time greats.

 

“It’s my wish and hope that I meet Sachin Tendulkar. Definitely, I would like to hug him and I am sure that just like all great players meet youngsters I am sure that he will not turn me down.

“I am sure that if I want to get any information on cricket from Sachin, he will give a positive reply,” Abid told a group of journalists.

Abid said meeting his idol would be a memorable moment.

“It will be the best day in my life when I meet him (Tendulkar) because he was one of the best batsmen.

“West Indian Viv Richards was also a great so I want to meet all the great players and learn from them,” said Abid.

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MU suffer fifth straight defeat with 0-4 loss to Everton

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London: A woeful Manchester United suffered their fifth straight away defeat, in all competitions, with a 4-0 Premier League hammering at the hands of a vibrant Everton at Goodison Park.

Brazilian Richarlison fired Everton ahead in the 13th minute with an acrobatic high volley after Dominic Calvert-Lewin flicked on a long throw.

Gylfi Sigurdsson made it 2-0 with a low drive from over 25 yards out that United keeper David De Gea was slow to react to.

 

Lucas Digne then blasted in the third in the 56th minute after De Gea punched out a corner to the French full-back as United struggled to get even a foot in the game.

Icelandic playmaker Sigurdsson then put substitute Theo Walcott through with a clever pass through the legs of Victor Lindelof which the former Arsenal striker confidently converted.

United, eliminated from the Champions League by Barcelona on Tuesday, remain in sixth, outside the four qualification spots for next season`s campaign.

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